A Simple Pot Roast on Christmas Day

On December 30, 2013, in Family, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Slow cooking is one of the best ways to enjoy a home cooked after a busy day.  This busy day was Christmas here in Los Angeles where it was a crisp 80 degrees outside.  So we needed something comforting and cozy after opening gifts and sledding.

Sledding?

Yes, sledding. See we decided to get into the Christmas spirit by driving to Zuma Beach where we noticed they had large hills of sand.  We packed the station wagon with the proper winter cargo:  beach blankets and a snow sled.

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Apparently we were not the only people in Southern California who realized Christmas Day 2013 was a perfect day for the beach. All along the coastline we saw cars parked and people playing on the beach as if it were mid-July.  We drove along the Pacific Coast Highway through Santa Monica and Malibu eventually arriving at Zuma Beach.  There were probably ten other families laying out enjoying the warm December sunshine.

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We climbed up the sandhill with our sled and proceeded to cruise down the bumpy hill. After a few slides down, the sand became smooth as some other kids joined our boys to try it out.  We quickly found out that four kids on the sled really made it a fun, quick ride.

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Eventually, our time sledding Zuma Beach came to an end and we hopped back into the car to head home.  The whole time, the pot roast was cooking slowly in the crockpot waiting for when we were ready for it; instead, of most meals that are ready when it’s ready.

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I used the following recipe but instead of using a Dutch oven to slow cook the roast, I simply did steps 1-6 in a Dutch Oven and then transferred everything to a crockpot putting  it on low temperature for 8-10 hours. Just make sure you get all of the goodness of the pan when deglazing before transferring to a crockpot.

Full Recipe: Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast.

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Chicken in Wine & Dijon Reduction

On July 28, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I’ve been hotel living now for over two weeks and this recipe is my most adventurous to date. It also presented me with a bit of a dilemma in the middle of cooking when I suddenly realized I didn’t have a wine bottle opener. Fortunately, the hotel provided serrated knife which I then used to not pop the cork, but rather to plunge the cork into the bottle.  Oh well, I did get the cup of wine I needed plus enjoyed a nice Riesling with my meal.

I have also found that my $6 purchase of Ziploc plastic containers was a brilliant decision.  They work well as mixing bowls or in this case when I needed a small bowl to hold some dijon mustard I needed to “brush” on the chicken pieces.  Brush is sort of what I did, but with no brush I improvised using a the back of a spoon to spread the mustard over the chicken pieces.

This was the first time I used the Extend Stay’s pan since it had sides that worked well for a liquid reduction instead of using my sauté pan or 4 quart pot.

A little about the ingredients…

I bought some pasture raised chicken from the Studio City Farmers’ Market a couple weeks back at the Dey Dey’s Best Ever Chicken stand. They sell half chickens which is a good choice for this recipe, since there is not a lot of room in the cooking pan.  Cooking times are a bit longer at the hotel with an electric stove top and the thin pan, but the results are great as you can see in the photo with the browned skin and meat falling off the bone.

In the end, this was a great success that didn’t really take any special tools other than a wine bottle opener.  My spoon “brushing” method worked well too.

Chicken in Wine & Dijon Reduction
Serves 2

1/2 whole chicken, bone-in split
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 shallots, finely diced
1/3 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

If your breast is thick be sure to add 3 or 4 slices with a knife into the thickest area to help reduce cooking time. Brush the chicken pieces with the dijon mustard. Heat olive oil in pan at medium-high heat adding chicken pieces when hot.  Cook each side for about 15 minutes turning often being careful not to burn.  When flipping the chicken brush some more dijon mustard on to coat fully before turning. Meanwhile dice the shallots.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and add the shallots cooking for 1 minute then deglazing the pan with the wine.  Add the chicken stock and return the chicken to the pan.  Let this cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat letting the liquid reduce by half.  Turn the chicken throughout to coat the sauce over the chicken pieces.

Finally remove the chicken from the pan and finish the sauce by adding the butter and some salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with a side dish or two.

Chicken with Sauteed Leeks, Apples and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

On February 10, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I finally did some catching up on my Pinterest to-do list.  This recipe I found on the site a couple weeks ago. It’s quite simple and only takes about 20 minutes with prep and time cooking.  The addition of a light white wine and lemon sauce really brings everything to life.

The meal tastes like fall. With Dallas weather similar to Michigan fall weather, it feels like a cool day in October in Detroit.

Full recipe: Chicken with Sauteed Leeks, Apples and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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Mission Accomplished: Best Beef Stew Ever.

On December 12, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love stew.  With winter finally settling in here in Dallas, yes I can hear the moaning from all my friends in Detroit, it’s the right time to start cooking stew.  I also opened up one of my Christmas gifts early since we were not going to drive to Michigan with it for the holidays and well I knew what it was because I’m the one who ordered it.  So, with some 40 degree temps this past week and a new La Creute Dutch Oven, it was time to find a new beef stew recipe.

Enter Google.

Yes, I actually found this recipe doing a Google search and it showed up in the top few results.  The Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes recipe from the Once Upon a Chef blog leveled whatever recipes I have in cookbooks, stuffed in files, or saved on a computer. This is the best beef stew I’ve ever made or tasted.

This is the beauty of the Dutch Oven

Fortunately, it’s pretty simple too and finds the right blend of wine, broth and water for a richly covered sauce. Meanwhile the beef nicely falls apart and the potatoes and carrots are done to perfection.

If you have been looking for the perfect beef stew recipe, try this. I doubt you’ll be disappointed and quite possibly, like me, you’ll be throwing away the other recipes that never quite satisfied.

Full Recipe: Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes.

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Provencale Beef Stew

On November 14, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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In 1993 I took a French Bistro Cooking class that was taught by one of the chefs from The Heathman Restaurant & Bar.  It was my first cooking class that led to many other classes that summer.  Oddly, the thing I remember most about this particular class was my “helping” with cleanup and rinsing a Heinkel chef knife and placing it in the dishwasher. The instructor freaked out on me and scolded me for putting a fine kitchen knife in the dishwasher. She was right, but as a 21 year old guy whose parents idea of a quality knife was a Ginsu knife set, I had no idea.

 

Fortunately, I walked away that evening with a quality beef stew recipe that also serves as the foundation for a great macaroni gratin dish too (more on that recipe tomorrow.)

 

Daube De Boeuf A La Provencale (Provencale Beef Stew)
Serves 6-8

3 lbs. stew meat (beef round or chuck)

Marinade:
4 carrots, peeled and cut into thick ‘half moons’
3 onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 rib celery, thickly sliced
4 sprigs fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1/3 cup brandy
1 bottle robust red wine (Cote du Provence, Cote du Rhone, Minervoise or Languedoc)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves

3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. mushrooms
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
salt and pepper

The day before serving the stew, in a large non reactive bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.  The peppercorns and cloves may be tied in a cheesecloth to remove before serving, if desired.  Toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Drain and reserve the liquid from the meat and vegetables.  Remove the meat from the vegetables.  Transfer the liquid and the vegetables (and the cheesecloth, if using) to a large non reactive casserole.  In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over high heat.  When foam begins to subside, add half the meat.  Sauté, tossing, until browned all over, about  5 minutes.  with a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the liquid and vegetables in the casserole.  Repeat with the remaining beef.

Stir the tomato paste into the casserole.  bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours.  While the meat is cooking, in the same skillet in which the meat was browned, add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; set aside.  When the meat is tender, (discard the cheesecloth, if using) stir in mushrooms, orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

The recipe can be prepared 2 to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.  Reheat before serving.

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Pork Tenderloin and Mustard-Wine Sauce

On October 17, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Simple ingredient recipes that are full of flavor are a great way to end a long weekend.  This pork tenderloin will be a big hit as the sauce is amazing benefiting from the juices of the roasted pork.

Pork Tenderloin and Mustard-Wine Sauce
Serves 4

1 lb Pork tenderloin
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Whisk the wine, water and mustard together. Season pork with salt and pepper on all sides.

Heat a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat; add oil. Brown pork all around turning the pork every few minutes.  This should take about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and add mustard-wine mixture. Transfer pan to oven.

Roast the pork, spooning the sauce over meat about halfway through.  Cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes to finish cooking through. Slice and drizzle sauce.

 

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Beef Ragu Chiantigiana

On October 9, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Beef Ragu Chiantigiana

Ragu is a maligned word in the pasta world.  It usually conjures up the idea of a highly acidic $3 pasta sauce. The word ragu is derived from the French word ragoût, from ragoûter, that means to revive the taste.  This recipe is here to revive the name ragu back to its roots of being a slow cooked meat and vegetable sauce that is rich in flavor.

Beef Ragu Chiantigiana
Serves 4

1 lb ground beef
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs chopped fresh sage
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
1 1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 lb pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Place ground beef in pot and season with salt and pepper. Brown meat all over for about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a bowl.  Do not rinse pot.

Add carrot, celery, and onion and saute until soft and lightly browned about 10 minutes.

Return meat to the pot and add garlic, rosemary, sage, and marjoram and saute briefly until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of wine and stir, scraping up bottom bits of pan. Let the wine reduce until almost gone, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add the tomato puree and simmer the ragu, uncovered for 1 hour. As it cooks add a 1/4 cup of beef stock every 15 minutes, letting it reduce after each reduction.

After the hour is over, add the remaining 1/2 cup of red wine and cook for another 15 minutes letting the wine cook off. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning.

Immediately before serving, blend in the butter; toss with the pasta. Serve with shaved Parmesan.

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Bistro Chicken Tarragon

On February 28, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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There is nothing as simple and obviously delicious as a recipe that calls for the following key ingredients: chicken, wine, and a fresh herb. Add some broth, butter and a few shallots and you are on your way to a very flavorful meal that’s great any time of the year.

I took a French Bistro cooking class in Portland, Oregon back in 1993 and the teacher/chef, worked at the Heathman Hotel, made a few recipes from a classic book on French Bistro Cooking that is an excellent source for such classic recipes. The following is not from the cookbook, but rather a modification from the course I took almost 20 years ago.

Bistro Chicken Tarragon
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs., cut into pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter
2 bunches tarragon, leaves removed from stems, coarse chop
4 shallots, minced

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Brush the pieces of chicken with the dijon mustard before placing in pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and brown and cook on both sides, about 10 minutes on each side. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to avoid burning the skin. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with foil. Pour off some of the excess oil.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the wine. Deglaze the pan by scraping any browned bits down from the sides and reduce the wine by about half. Add the shallots and cook for several minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce by about half. Whisk in the butter. Return the chicken to the skillet and coat with the sauce. Cover and cook until chicken is warmed through, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the tarragon leaves and turn the chicken pieces to coat. Serve immediately.

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Pork Loin with White Wine Reduction

On March 29, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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There are so many ways to make a sauce, but most have one of the following main ingredients: heavy cream, butter or wine. And, yes, some great sauces use all three. The one I invented last Friday night used a white wine reduction.

Breaded Pork Loin with White Wine Reduction
Serves 4

4 pork loin cutlets, trimmed of fat
1 egg, white only – discard yoke
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

For Sauce:
1/2 cup of white wine, Chardonnay or table wine
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 medium red onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon capers
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and olive oil in medium high saute pan. Place pork loin cutlets between saran wrap and pound thin with meat tenderizer. Mix egg white and orange juice together in shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper in a separate shallow bowl. Dip pork cutlets into egg wash and then dip into bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. Cook cutlets for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove cutlets from pan.

In saute pan, add onions and 1 tablespoon of butter, if necessary. Cook onions until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add capers and cook for 1 minute with onions. Add white wine and reduce by half. Add lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and salt and pepper whisking ingredients to wine reduction. Return cutlets to pan for about 1 or 2 minutes as sauce thickens.

Remove cutlets from pan and pour sauce over to serve. Sprinkle with any remaining parsley, optional.

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